Let me analyse and reply the above mentioned questions.
Mr. Sharif can increase the cost of governing India and also affect its demographic equations by investing in its troubles, but he cannot cool down the temperature in Pakistan by supporting militant activities in any form anywhere; neither in Afghanistan nor India. He needs to see that the wealth generated is far more important thing than supporting violence and investing in radicalism and fundamentalism.
Sure, he is not much of a pacifist, neither he is expected to be. Pakistan has full right to be bitter about the Kashmir dispute with respect to India, but such skirmishes along the LoC are not going to change the status quo, neither is it going to help Pakistan in any significant way. Pakistan can be calmed down partially, though not effectively, by accepting anglicization and westernization and for that there needs to exist a balanced and a rather calm relationship with India. Pakistan cannot deny the history of the subcontinent in the same way as India denies the reality behind the very existence of Pakistan. Both needs to be historically literate: that their relations is millennia old and that both can affect each other; positively and negatively. Also, their separation has been good for their respective majorities.
Once bitten twice shy; that is the correct way to define Mr. Sharif’s apprehension about the Pakistani army. In fact, he was deposed twice by the military. But, Mr. Sharif needs to be realistic, cannot dictate terms to Pakistani army, neither can he keep them happy by taking a hawkish stand over the Kashmir dispute. Mr. Sharif needs to understand that he cannot have Janus like policy with respect to India: one to talk about Kashmir issue in the same manner as Pakistan used to do in the past and second to approach rest of India in a newer way offering olive branch otherwise.
Frankly speaking, Indians are not that rational neither Pakistanis are so apt in their diplomacy. The fact is that intelligence of Hindus and Muslims of the subcontinent is practically same even though they have applied it rather differently. Mr. Sharif should be advised not to take much interest in looking for Chief of Pakistani army, General Kayani’s successor.
Now, as far as status of Kashmir dispute is concerned, it is at the backburner of international diplomacy. The fact is that asymmetries between India and Pakistan due to size and diversity are so huge that Pakistan cannot match with India’s performance; probably never, but definitely not in short-to-middle term. It cannot reduce the differences without imitating India. The other argument is that the people of Valley may feel alienated because of continuity of Indian administration, is partly correct but Pakistan needs to understand that the two regions of the J&K; Jammu and Ladakh, are very pro-Indian and they are likely to remain so in the near future. The nationalism of the two and presence of the BJP in the state do help the cause of Indian Union. Mr. Sharif should not react to hawkish stand taken by the BJP, most notably by its probable Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, over Kashmir and Article 370. He should follow the policy of wait and watch.
Now, for the last question about contesting the US position in South Asia, Mr. Sharif needs to understand that he is a rich Punjabi, and Punjabis are the fairest and the most dominant people in the subcontinent. Questioning the dominance of the most dominant, should not be the policy of fair and dominant people of any size. Mr. Sharif should take the respite by the fact that the US would never abandon Pakistan over Kashmir dispute. It cannot accept India’s position completely unless and until China does not turn out to be the enemy. The US cannot take Pakistani position completely either, unless and until China does not turn out to be an ally.
Both extreme positions are unlikely scenarios. It is the US relationship with China, which would determine its policy over Kashmir though opinion of Islamic world is also a factor, although not that dominating. Therefore, the US would take a middle path and would like to nudge both the nations to seek a negotiated settlement of the dispute.
So is there no amicable solution?
Famous Australia based Indian academician Amitabh Mattoo wrote on his Facebook wall about the incident as follows:
He quoted a couplet by famous Urdu poet Bashir Badr:
“Dushmani bhi kijiye lekin ye gunjaish rahe,
Jab kabhi hum dost ban jaayein to sharminda na hon.”
What it means is that in the quest of enmity, the two should not strain relationship to the extent that both feel embarrassed after the end of their hostility.
I think couplets, analogies and sayings have no meaning in deciding the fate of almost 1.5 billion people. The fact is that it requires down-to-earth realistic and hard-won discussions to help resolve the Kashmir dispute and other outstanding issues between India and Pakistan. Mr. Badr's couplets are mostly anthropological in nature and have nothing to do with politics. There is a personal touch as well as Mr. Badr being a Muslim may feel somewhat nostalgic about Pakistan, something the dominant majority of India of any region may not feel so. Moreover, the leftist arguments cannot resolve the disputes. I think despite of varied ideologies and not-so-dominant BJP, the subcontinent people are intrinsically rightists.